Positive Psychology: Be and Elephant Parent/Teacher

Positive Psychology has a unique perspective on teaching and parenting: “Be an Elephant Mother in the times of the Tiger Mom.”

What, Dr. K? Yes, it may sound funny, and not at all related to humans. However, we can take many lessons from our beautiful animal kingdom. In this case, we learn that Elephant Mothers hold deep, enduring, emotional bonds as priority over compliance (what Tigers value). The original article here, explains more about this http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/12/elephant-mom-timeof-tigermother/383378/.

I find ten ways that you can become an elephant teacher consistent with the research and practice of positive psychology.

1. Lower your voice. Raised and harsh voices hinder learning.

2. Prevent or comfort crying and distress. Negative experience stresses the brain.

3. Participate in joyful experiences daily. Positive experience nourishes the brain.

4. Let children and adolescents play.

5. Emotionally protect to incubate the emotional strength that underlies future resilience.

6. Show infinite patience and – above all else – always be unconditionally kind.

7. Model “grit” or perserverance so it is learned organically through observation.

8. Understand adult-like standards/expectations are not developmentally appropriate.

9. Be nurturing, vulnerable, empathetic.

10. Be the teacher you want to be and not the one others expect you to become.

Remember that children have the rest of their lives to “grow up”. Don’t rush them or you sap their emotional strength before it matures. Don’t burden them with responsibiities that are too big for them just as you would not buy shoes two sizes too large. Functional development evolves slowly.